None of us planned for this.
But if you have a life focused financial plan in place, it will have mechanisms in place that will help you get through this tough patch with the coronavirus and the financial market volatility. The key is not letting heightened emotions and bad headlines steer you towards decisions that could have a negative impact on your finances long after this crisis has passed.
Easier said than done!
These three steps will help you remember why you have a plan in the first place, what it’s designed to help you accomplish, and how we can help.
- Acknowledge your emotions.
Worry. Anger. Uncertainty. Nervousness. Maybe even a disbelieving chuckle or two at the craziness of it all.
Whatever you’re feeling right now is OK. We understand that your financial concerns are just one part of a very complicated and very personal situation involving your family, your work, your health care, and your basic needs. Add in the anxiety we’re all feeling about the situation in the wider world and you wouldn’t be human if your emotions weren’t a bit jumbled right nowSo please understand that when we advise you to take emotions out of your financial decision making during a crisis, we’re not advising you to ignore what you’re feeling. On the contrary, we encourage you to talk through your feelings with your spouse, children, co-workers, and other close friends or family. Burying your emotions only makes stressful situations more stressful. Our human capacity for empathy, understanding, connection, and mutual concern is going to help us all weather this storm. It’s also going to lead you towards healthier and more productive outlets for your feelings, such as charitable giving and finding creative ways to support local businesses.
- Tell yourself your story.
Once your feelings are out in the open, it will be easier for you to think about the financial part of your situation with a clear head.
Try, for a moment, to set aside the market swings that may have been dominating your news feeds for the past few weeks. Instead, think about the reason that you created your financial life plan in the first place.
The focus would not have been about how to time your investments to world news or market fluctuations. Instead, it’s all about you. About the life you desire for you and your loved ones.
It’s about how you get and keep your best possible life with the money you have.
- Prioritise Now, adjust for Soon, stay on track for Later.
Because we plan for clients’ lives, not just their money, we always take in a wide view of financial progress. Today’s big market dip will look like a blip with a thirty or forty-year panoramic perspective. But “stick to your plan” doesn’t mean we don’t do anything during a major market correction, especially if you’re at or nearing retirement age. It means that the moves we contemplate are based more on your upcoming life transitions than they are on unpredictable market movements.
To keep yourself focused on things you can plan for, grab a sheet of paper and sit down with your spouse or partner. Divide that sheet into three sections:
- Now: Financial concerns that need to be addressed as soon as possible, such as paying next month’s bills, a necessary home repair, or a health care issue.
- Soon: Important items 6-12 months out that you still have time to prepare for.
- Later: Everything else.
Most of these items may be things you’ve discussed and planned for over time. But it’s possible that recent events have filled up your Nows and bumped some Soons into Laters. Your financial life plan should have been set up so that it can be responsive to these changing priorities and transitions while still being sensitive to larger economic realities.
To remind yourself of what you’re truly planning for, it might be a good idea to revisit your original plan. After all, your financial life plan should be a roadmap to be revisited often, not set up and forgotten. Or get in touch if you’d like a second opinion. The current crisis might alter your path a little bit. But your destination may still be the same.